Abstract

The outdoor use of organisms modified with gene drives—emerging biotechnologies of biased inheritance—could further human well-being and biodiversity conservation, yet also poses environmental risks and diverse social challenges. This article describes and analyzes the international law and politics of gene drives’ research, development, and possible use, with an emphasis on their potential biodiversity applications. The Convention on Biological Diversity is central, and its institutions and others have taken actions toward governing gene drive organisms. Gene drives’ governance and politics are contrasted with those of agricultural genetically modified organisms, with emphases on states, nonstate actors, the precautionary approach, and decision-making forums. Developing and implementing governance—especially in international forums—for gene drives may prove to be difficult. The observations and analysis here indicate that the politics of gene drive organisms is a manifestation of a larger struggle regarding emerging technologies among those concerned about sustainability.

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